How Do You Help Patients with PTSD Regain Their Confidence?
How do you help patients with PTSD regain their confidence?
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[Lt. Col, Philip Holcombe] Post-traumatic stress disorder brings with it this huge, tremendous survival instinct to avoid. You just want to get away. I want to get away from anything that keys me up. I want to get away from anything that reminds me of the trauma, and the more you get away, the more isolated you become in life, the less confident you become about your ability to just live life. So when a person engages in post-traumatic stress disorder treatment and they find a provider who knows about evidence-based care, a good provider says, "We're getting ready to do something that's hard. We're getting ready to tell you that you need to face these things that you're afraid of and as you face these things that you're afraid of, it's going to be hard. It's going to be uncomfortable. You may not like me at times because I'm telling you that you need to do this, but we're going to do this in a step-by-step fashion," and in a way that the patient is in control, and the patient can regain their confidence as they go step by step and they realize that they can face the things that they're afraid of. It's not the fear that's the problem in and of itself. It's the willingness to engage life even when you are afraid, and service members understand this well. They understand it well because they're trained to go face war. They're trained to run into the face of fear for a sense of meaning and purpose that's higher, that's more important than their own safety. So because they understand this well, if they can get past the stigma and the shame and embarrassment that all too often our culture brings, within the treatment itself, they can start to gain confidence.
Posted on BrainLine May 8, 2013.
Lt. Col. Philip Holcombe is an Army psychologist who serves as the chief of Clinical Recommendations at the Deployment Health Clinical Center at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.
Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine.